Ten Ways to Rebuild a Relationship With a Teen

Written by Mark Gregston. Posted in disrespect, parenting, parenting communications, teen communications, troubled teens

Ten Ways to Rebuild a Relationship With a TeenRelationships thrive in settings where everyone agrees that nobody is perfect.

Unconditional love is fundamental for building healthy relationships with teenage children who will test their parents and their rules in every possible way. When they do, a busy, stressed-out parent can often react in ways that don’t always convey unconditional love.

If that sounds like you, maybe you need to work on mending your relationship before it is destroyed altogether.  Consider implementing some of these bridge-builders:

10 Ways to Rebuild Your Relationship

1.  By spending weekly time together, one on one…

Of all the advice I swear by, this is one you cannot ignore; Take your child out for breakfast, out for coffee, or do a lunch — and make it a habit every week.  Even if they resist, you must insist.  It tells your child, “You are worth spending time with, even when you are at your worst.”   Make it a one on one time together and come prepared with a topic to discuss that will be of interest to your teen.  It doesn’t have to take a lot of time.  But it should be consistent.

2.  By sharing challenging experiences…

Parents need to spend more time, not less, having fun with their child when he or she reaches adolescence.  Unfortunately, many organized school and church activities can tend to get in the way of that.  I recommend you find a challenge you both appreciate and pursue it together with excitement.  Dedicate some resources, time, effort, interest, and vigor to developing your interest together.

3.  By looking for opportunities for discussion…

Ask the right kind of questions.  The kind of questions that make them think about things, not just a “yes” or “no” questions.  Find out what they think, how they would do something, where they would go, and why they think a certain way.  Take advantage of reinforcing those moments when a discussion leads to surprising expressions of wisdom from your teen.  Talk about controversial subjects as you would a friend or co-worker for whom you have extreme respect.  Never belittle their opinions about things. After all, did you know everything when you were a teen?

4.  By listening more and answering less…

If you want your teen to grasp what you are thinking, then stop telling him what you are thinking until your are asked for your opinion.  Zip your lip – just be quiet.  Stop lecturing, start listening.  Your teen won’t be ready to really listen until he becomes the initiator of a discussion, so just hush and get out of the way of him taking the lead.

5.  By developing a sense of humor…

Some of us are sour, bitter, and stressed all of the time.  Lighten up!  When was the last time you really laughed?  Try having a joke night – where everyone has to come to dinner with a joke to share.  Even if it’s corny, everyone laughs!

6, By playing together….

Play paintball, go ride horses, go fishing or hunting, go camping and gaze at the stars, or pull a stunt together.  Get them up at midnight to watch a meteor shower.  Live it up and enjoy life with your kids in some way.  If you don’t like what they like they like to do, then just be there to watch or help them in some way. The key is the two of you being together.

7.  By remembering your child’s past and believing in your child’s future…

Carry a photo of your child as a youngster with you at all times! Post their baby photo on your refrigerator.  This way you won’t forget who this child was when they turn into an alien in their teens.  Keep in mind the joy of bringing them home at birth.  Remember, the thumbprint of God is still on their life.  Don’t dwell solely on their current struggles and difficulties.  Thank God for the work He is doing and will do in your child’s life.

8.  By establishing boundaries…

Let them know where they can and can’t “go” in your relationship.  Tell them what you expect, before something challenges those expectations.  Clearly establish your belief system and household rules. Being too lax as a parent and trying to act more as their friend and peer will hurt, not help, your relationship.

9.  By selfless confrontation…

Remember, discipline is about your teen, not you.  It is discipleship for their own good, not to make you feel better for all the stress they’ve caused.  Seek the right things in your child’s life for the right reasons.  Confront with calmness, correct with firmness, and with a love that has their best interests at heart.  Confront their mistakes with matter-of-fact and consequences, unwavering and without emotion or anger. In this way, it will become clear to them through the consequences that they are causing their own grief, not you.  If you are unsure, ask your spouse if you confronting your teen in an appropriate way.

10. By correcting and disciplining them, even when it makes you uncomfortable…

Your child needs to know you love them enough to correct and discipline them when they behave in ways that offend others or break your household rules or the rules of society.  Find healthy ways to discipline through loss of certain freedoms and privileges for a time.  Never resort to physical discipline with a teenager and be sure to approach all discipline on a united front with your spouse.  And be sure to reward a teen for good behavior by adding more freedoms and privileges.  That’s more important to them than anything else at this age.

And one more – as a bonus!

You can rebuild your relationship by acting on your faith and your beliefs.  Don’t just say it, put your beliefs into action.  Serve others, love others, forgive others, pray, worship.  Exercise your faith in front of your teenager.

Which of these will you implement into your relationship with your child this week?  I recommend starting with number one. And even if you get nothing but grief from your teen at first, keep up your weekly time together, week after week.  Eventually they’ll come around.

Remember, relationships thrive when unconditional love is delivered across a bridge of friendship that never stops — even if your teen doesn’t respond or goes on making mistakes.

“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love:
therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.”  
Jeremiah 31:3

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a residential counseling center for struggling teens located in Longview, Texas.  He has been married to his wife, Jan, for 39 years, has two kids, and 4 grandkids.  He lives in Longview, Texas with the Heartlight staff, 60 high school kids, 25 horses, his dog, Stitch, 2 llamas, and a prized donkey named Toy.  His past involvement as a youth pastor, Young Life area director, and living with over 2,500 teens, has prepared Mark to share his insights and wisdom about parenting pre-teens and adolescents.

You can find out more about Heartlight at www.HeartlightMinistries.org.  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.

For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our Parenting Today’s Teens website at www.ParentingTodaysTeens.org, It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent. Here you will also find a station near you where you can listen to the Parenting Today’s Teens radio broadcast, or download the podcast of the most recent programs.

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Teens Who Demand and Parents Who Don’t

Written by Mark Gregston. Posted in consequences, family conflict, money, parenting communications, teen conflict, teen culture

Teens Who Demand and Parents Who Don’t

Teens today seem much more demanding than recent generations.  That’s relatively new, but what’s not new is that teens are also less mature today.  Add the two together and what you get is kids who expect their parents to be a walking, breathing ATM machine.

Parents who continually meet the financial demands of a teen fail to realize that they are unwittingly postponing their teen’s development into a responsible and mature adult.  That’s because generosity and a parent’s desire to provide for their child often gets misinterpreted by the teen, leading them believe that this provisional lifestyle will continue endlessly.  They want more and more and appreciate it less and less.

It echoes the attitudes of the Prodigal Son found in scripture, with one difference. Today’s prodigals don’t leave home.  In fact, they are comfortable at home because they can continue a self-centered and lavish lifestyle right under their parent’s noses, with no real-life consequences to help them come to their senses.

Don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing inherently wrong for parents (and grandparents) to want to do great things for their children. But when the teen years come along and the child has not learned how to earn and manage their own money, then the over indulgent parent is unintentionally cutting short their teen’s ability to make it out in the real world.

I hear from parents every day who want to place their teenager in our Heartlight Residential program for troubled teenagers.  Many of these kids come homes where parents have lavished on them everything they ever wanted and required nothing of them in return.

We have little ability to change the materialistic world in which our teens live. But I have no doubt of our ability to change what we will and won’t give a child.

So, my recommendation is this. Let the demanding teenager know that it’s time to take more responsibility for what they want or need. Tell them that good ol’ mom and dad will help them make good buying choices and may provide ways for them to earn money, but they will no longer give them everything they want.

I’m usually pretty straightforward with a teen in such a conversation. I’ll say, “Thanks for telling me what you want. But I need you to know something.  Every time you ask, I get a feeling that it’s more of a demand than a request. I just want to let you know that as your parent I owe you nothing, but I want to give you everything. For right now, my greatest gift to you would be to help you learn how to make and manage your own money.”

This immediately lets your child know they need to lower their expectations about what you will provide, and allows them to begin assuming responsibility for what they want.

For instance, “Honey, your asking for a cell phone is important to you, and I know you would really like to have it. It’s important for me to allow you to take responsibility for it, so let’s talk about what you can do to make it happen. I’m willing to help you find an inexpensive way to have a cell phone, and you’ll need that since you’ll be paying for it.”

But if your child is still young, you can head off such “entitled” attitudes. Begin early to teach them financial responsibility. For instance, when they are 13 they can begin to manage a checking account and pay for minor expenses like lunch money out of a weekly allowance. When they are 15 they can get themselves out of bed for school, do their own laundry, clean their own room, learn how to cook for themselves, and get a summer job to cover some of their own wants and needs.  When they’re 16 and can drive, an after-school or weekend job will help them pay for gas, auto insurance and other needs.

Let alone keeping idle hands busy and out of trouble, starting sooner to teach your teen how to work to make money will give them a greater feeling of independence and self-confidence and prepare them for the day in the future when they tell you they are starting out on their own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a residential counseling center for struggling teens located in Longview, Texas.  He has been married to his wife, Jan, for 39 years, has two kids, and 4 grandkids.  He lives in Longview, Texas with the Heartlight staff, 60 high school kids, 25 horses, his dog, Stitch, 2 llamas, and a prized donkey named Toy.  His past involvement as a youth pastor, Young Life area director, and living with over 2,500 teens, has prepared Mark to share his insights and wisdom about parenting pre-teens and adolescents.

You can find out more about Heartlight at www.HeartlightMinistries.org.  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.

For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our Parenting Today’s Teens website at www.ParentingTodaysTeens.org, It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent. Here you will also find a station near you where you can listen to the Parenting Today’s Teens radio broadcast, or download the podcast of the most recent programs.

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Teen Anger Provoked By Parents

Written by Mark Gregston. Posted in anger management, boundaries, consequences, disrespect, parenting, parenting communications

Teen Anger Provoked By ParentsIf you hadn’t noticed, teenagers are in an overactive state of emotion most of the time. It doesn’t take much to bring them to the point of exasperation. They can only take so much pressure before they shut down or act out of frustration or anger instead of clear or right thinking. Sometimes they’re provoked to the point of putting up walls of protection around themselves.

“An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.” – Proverbs 18:19

Does it seem that your child is like a fortified city, a citadel with barred gates? In other words, nothing you say or do is getting through to them? Or, perhaps they respond only with bitterness and resentment?

I can see how some kids fall into patterns of bad behavior. I’m not saying they are right in their chosen ways of rebellion, anger, or self-destruction. But in some ways I can understand it, especially when the atmosphere at home is tense or disrespectful because of a provoking parent.

For instance, sometimes a parent has a problem with anger, or vents frustration with work, finances, or other disappointments in life on their child. Or, in an effort to control the situation and their teen, clamp down on the rules so hard that no one in the relationship can move or breathe.

When a teenager is provoked to exasperation by a parent, it’s an invitation for them to become angry, and garner resentment. Teens are still too immature to handle it properly. Fact is, some never get over a mean or demeaning parent, even in later years of life. The seeming unfairness of their parent’s poor performance can wound deeply, and they can either react explosively or clam up and hide. In either case, walls go up, and the child becomes like a barred fortress.

I’m not talking about momentary parental lapses here. If you are going through a struggle with your teenager right now, I guarantee there will be moments when you will not handle matters well. Even the best parent may “lose it” every now and then.

Instead, I am referring to a parent who has an ongoing problem losing it…of punishing and demeaning a child with destructive or negative words, who may or may not recognize it, and the child ends up in a perpetual state of anger and bitterness as a result.

Scripture offers these tips to avoid provoking a child…

Be the Adult in the Heat of an Argument
“A gentle answer turn away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

Avoid Teasing or Inappropriate Joking
“Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I was only joking’.”- Proverbs 26:18

Don’t Make Rash Comments
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” – Proverbs 12:18

Avoid Being Overly Critical
“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire…” – James 3:9

Don’t Give an Answer Before First Listening
“He who answers before listening, that is his folly and shame.” – Proverbs 18:13

Don’t Withhold Wise Counsel
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend spring from his earnest counsel.” – Proverbs 27:9

Avoid Telling Untruths
“A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” – Proverbs 26:28

Don’t Make Insensitive Remarks
“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” – Proverbs 25:20

Don’t Jump to Wrong Conclusions
“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions” – Proverbs 18:2

You may discover that it is at least partly your fault that things are headed in the wrong direction with your teenager. But, don’t despair. Identifying the problem is half the battle. Seeking forgiveness and asking for help is the other half. Your teen may be like a fortress with high walls and a locked gate — impenetrable, but it doesn’t need to stay that way.

So, ask yourself, are the answers given at your house gentle, truthful, humble, and delivered with kindness, understanding and wisdom? Are you considerate of the feelings of everyone you live with, including your sometimes-frustrating teenager? Are you teachable, sensitive, and a good listener?

I recently witnessed an entire family break down and sob when the father asked each member to forgive him for the way he’d handled himself in their relationship. He repeated his request with intensity and emotion. It was a humble, sincere apology, and a good step toward healing the resentment of his children. Every heart in the room melted.

Will you take responsibility for steering your home in the right direction, fostering positive emotions and mutual respect? Start by identifying where you have been wrong, and seek forgiveness from those you have offended. Start today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a residential counseling center for struggling teens located in Longview, Texas.  He has been married to his wife, Jan, for 39 years, has two kids, and 4 grandkids.  He lives in Longview, Texas with the Heartlight staff, 60 high school kids, 25 horses, his dog, Stitch, 2 llamas, and a prized donkey named Toy.  His past involvement as a youth pastor, Young Life area director, and living with over 2,500 teens, has prepared Mark to share his insights and wisdom about parenting pre-teens and adolescents.

You can find out more about Heartlight at www.HeartlightMinistries.org.  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.

For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our Parenting Today’s Teens website at www.ParentingTodaysTeens.org, It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent. Here you will also find a station near you where you can listen to the Parenting Today’s Teens radio broadcast, or download the podcast of the most recent programs.

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Smartphone Apps to Watch Out For

Written by Mark Gregston. Posted in Cell phones, family conflict, household rules, internet monitoring, technology, teen communications, teen culture

Smartphone Apps to Watch Out ForConfession time; I love my smart phone.  I check my e-mail, read books, listen to music, store my photos, and navigate directions. I can also use this handy device to talk to people, but that is almost a secondary function on this type of phone.  The technology in this tool can be wonderfully useful.  With all the information and functionality at our fingertips, we live in a world far different than the one we grew up in.

This brave new world is one our kids are now navigating with a natural proficiency you and I will have to work hard to match.  It’s an environment of new technology and innovation that seems to change and evolve every other day.  Many parents feel unequipped to even try to understand this new world.  They are sort of “digital immigrants” entering a strange new frontier.  But our teens are embracing it with open arms.  According to a recent Pew Internet study, 3 out of every 4 teenagers own their own cell phone.  That’s incredible, considering that only a few years ago pagers were all the rage!  With the explosion of cell phone use, smartphone applications, or “apps” have also taken off.  Whether it’s Apple or Google, every cell phone provider has an online store, where you can peruse thousands upon thousands of applications that can be downloaded right onto your phone.  These handy icons on your phone allow you to do everything from edit photos, to order a pizza, to turning your phone into a flashlight!  Some novelty apps are free.  Other more powerful apps can cost you quite a bit of money.

You might feel a little lost navigating a digital world, where everyday hundreds of new apps are available for download.  However, parents must immerse themselves in this digital world and be aware of what’s out there, because some seemingly harmless apps have the potential to be dangerous.  Let me highlight a few new ones.

SNAPCHAT

This app allows users to send photos and videos from their phone that disappear after 10 seconds once they are received.  No longer are images and information living on in perpetuity.  The idea is that once the intended receiver gets your photo, it’s gone in a flash.  However, this has made many young people feel safe sending inappropriate photos and videos, believing that what they are forwarding won’t live in the cyber world.  Unfortunately, that’s not the case.  Even when you use Snapchat, material can be saved.  If you see this app on your teens phone, let them know that everything they send can be monitored.

KIK

Kik is an instant messaging service that allows users to send messages and photos with relative anonymity.  Because it’s a third-party service, contacts and messages are not recorded by your phone’s provider like they would be if you were using the regular IM service.  Kik is a popular messaging service with tweens and teens, with over 80 million users.  But the danger is that this app allows people to chat with your teen anonymously, and messages go unrecorded.  So talk to your son or daughter about the dangers of anonymous chats, and explain what subjects and topics are inappropriate to talk about with others.  Set boundaries for this type of social media, and explain the risks involved with using an app like Kik.

ASK.FM.

Ask.fm is an app that allows users to ask tough questions or share secrets anonymously.  There are over 65 million users of Ask.fm, and it’s only gaining in popularity.  However, the open forum environment has caused this app to be open to cyber-bullying.  Currently, five teen suicides have been linked to harassing comments or questions left on Ask.Fm.  So why are kids flocking to this app?  Sameer Hinduja, a criminology professor at Florida Atlantic University, says part of the appeal of apps like Ask.Fm is the need for affirmation.  “You need to be validated when you’re a teenager because you are wondering if you’re turning out OK, and so these sites completely meet that need.  It’s like, ‘this is so great. Someone asked me a question.  Someone took the time to visit my profile and like my picture and leave a comment.’”

VINE

This can be a fun app that allows users to create silly, 6-second videos that run on a loop.  Like Youtube for people with A.D.D.  It could be a short video of a skateboard crash, or a friend eating an ice-cream cone.  While this app is intended for innocent fun, there is a ton of inappropriate material out there on Vine, both sexual and violent.  Some disturbing videos have included animal cruelty, cyber-bullying, and kids being recorded unawares.  Vine is currently putting heavy filters on what can be uploaded, but teens are still being exposed to harmful material on this app.

TINDER

Tinder is an online dating app for tweens and teens.  I know, I know; it’s already inappropriate that there would be a dating service for kids!  However, young people are attracted to this app because of the positive reinforcement they receive.  Tinder is designed to only match kids with other people who like them back, which is flattering and affirming.  However, because matches are limited to a geographic area and can be seen by anyone, there can be instances where your teen is connecting with someone close by who is definitely not a teen.  Tinder is one of the few apps I would counsel parents to restrict from their child’s phone.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram is not a new app.  Its reign as “selfie central” is long-standing.  On Instagram, users can post pictures of just about everything; what they are wearing, eating, visiting, doing.  Sometimes it’s just a picture of them!  Part of the appeal is that the app offers some cool filters that make photos look creative and artistic.  Like Twitter, you can follow a person’s Instagram profile, and see all the pictures they are posting.  Celebrities are constantly posting material, and it’s been a real draw for people to become a follower and see what certain movie stars or musicians are doing.  While there are restrictions about content posted on Instagram, some inappropriate images still get through.  But the real concern here is “who is looking at pictures of your child?”  I caution parents to change the security filters on their child’s Instagram profile from “everyone” to something more restrictive.  Also, a consistent need to post pictures of their life may entice your son or daughter into an unhealthy narcissistic mentality.  Monitor your teen’s Instagram profile, and curb their activity if you feel it’s getting out of hand.

Maybe you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and wondering if you should just take your teen’s phone and hand it back when he or she turns 35.  These warnings are not meant to scare you, but rather to inform you and make you better prepared to protect your children.  Cell phones are wonderful tools for teens and adults alike.  But as moms and dads, we need to guide our teens in making smart choices about their smart phones.  And yes, that may mean checking your child’s cellular device once a week and seeing what new apps are on there.  It’s not snooping.  It’s wise parenting!  If there is an app that’s unfamiliar, take the time to check it out.  It’s time we stop being “digital immigrants” and start living like well-informed residents of this technology filled world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a residential counseling center for struggling teens located in Longview, Texas.  He has been married to his wife, Jan, for 39 years, has two kids, and 4 grandkids.  He lives in Longview, Texas with the Heartlight staff, 60 high school kids, 25 horses, his dog, Stitch, 2 llamas, and a prized donkey named Toy.  His past involvement as a youth pastor, Young Life area director, and living with over 2,500 teens, has prepared Mark to share his insights and wisdom about parenting pre-teens and adolescents.

You can find out more about Heartlight at www.HeartlightMinistries.org.  You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173.

For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our Parenting Today’s Teens website at www.ParentingTodaysTeens.org, It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent. Here you will also find a station near you where you can listen to the Parenting Today’s Teens radio broadcast, or download the podcast of the most recent programs.

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No Quick Fixes for Teen Behavior Problems

Written by Mark Gregston. Posted in boundaries, counseling, struggling teens, teen anger, teen counseling, teen discipline, troubled teens

No Quick Fixes for Teen Behavior ProblemsI see as many problems surface from the unrealistic expectations of parents of struggling teenagers as I do with the teenagers themselves. In some ways parental issues are tougher to address than a teen’s.

Parents often think that their teen’s problems can be fixed with the right formula, medication, or bandage, just like the cuts and scrapes of childhood. Then, when they’ve tried everything, and nothing works, they become discouraged and reactionary, leading to even more damage in the relationship with their child or their spouse.

The fact is, every child is unique. There are no “cookie cutter” kids and there is no formula for fixing them when they go down the wrong path. To think we can simply “fix” them with a particular method or doctrine is just wrong. While it is a nice marketing mantra for some well-known psychologists to promote quick fixes for serious teen problems, there really is no such simple cure. There are no easy answers and even with the best of help, a parent may not see real progress in their teen for a very long time.

So, what does that mean for you? It means that if you are struggling with your teen, you may need to hang in there for a year, five years, or even twenty years. Do you have the strength to wait for your child to come to terms with serious issues like alcohol or drug abuse, cutting, promiscuity, and other self-destructive choices?

Most parents in the midst of such storms become battered, worn down, devastated, embarrassed, frazzled, and totally unprepared for helping their teen through the struggle. It may not be until they are at a point of desperation, when unraveling the mess their life has become looms impossible, that they consider finding real help for themselves as well. When a teen is spinning out of control, parents are also in need of help, or they at least need a new and improved set of skills for coping, which may be found through counseling or participating in a support group. Your teen isn’t the only one in need. You deserve support as well, so you don’t turn into a useless heap of nerves. It is important to learn how to better cope with and gently respond to your teen’s issues and not stoop to feelings of parental failure.

It is important to prepare yourself for the long haul. Be prepared to spend more time, money, and energy than you ever imagined in this process. Find friends and spiritual advisors to lean on, and be real with them. Take care of your physical body, and pay attention to your walk with God.

Spiritually, parents of troubled teens are eventually forced to their knees to draw upon the Lord’s guidance and help with their teen. This position of utter helplessness is actually the best position to be in. The greatest strength comes from letting go of your child into the arms of a loving God. The Lord becomes the only real help when a teen is out of control or absent from the home anyway.

So, simply give up the idea that for serious teen problems there is a pill to take or a quick fix to be found. Instead, act quickly yourself to build up the support and strength you need, both from the Lord above and from those to which He’s given special knowledge and experience here on Earth.

Tools and Resources to Help You Cope…

If you are having difficulty coping or your teen is too close to the edge of self-destruction, one option is to place your teen in a therapeutic residential program for a time. That’s why we developed the Heartlight Residential Counseling Center in East Texas 25 years ago. Our trained staff helps both the teen and the family work through tough situations, providing a relief for the parents and time for relationships to heal. Our program is full to capacity much of the time, but there are other good programs we can refer you to as well. So, please contact us if things have gotten to a point that placing your teen in a program is recommended by your counselor or if you and your family simply need a break from the stress.

Another option is to participate in one of our weekend Families in Crisis Conference, where parents of struggling teenagers learn new tools for coping, and the proper relational skills for dealing with their teen. Participants learn from individual and group counseling how to address their own unique situation. You will hear from teenagers who are working through their rebellion, or have successfully struggled through their teen years and become fantastic and caring adults. Just call us at 903-668-2173 for the next retreat date and more details or visit

And finally, we’ve developed various books, tapes and video resources to help parents deal with a struggling teenager and learn from our own experience of working with teens for 40 years. To see these resources online, visit www.heartlightresources.com.

About the Author

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, a residential counseling center for struggling teens located in Longview, Texas.  He has been married to his wife, Jan, for 39 years, has two kids, and 4 grandkids.  He lives in Longview, Texas with the Heartlight staff, 60 high school kids, 25 horses, his dog, Stitch, 2 llamas, and a prized donkey named Toy.  His past involvement as a youth pastor, Young Life area director, and living with over 2,500 teens, has prepared Mark to share his insights and wisdom about parenting pre-teens and adolescents.

Visit www.HeartlightMinistries.org to find out more about the residential counseling center for teens, or call Heartlight directly at 903. 668.2173.  For more information and helpful other resources for moms and dads, visit www.ParentingTodaysTeens.org, It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent. Here you will also find a station near you where you can listen to the Parenting Today’s Teens radio broadcast, or download the podcast of the most recent programs.

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